Why do you keep saying NO to the things I offer?

saying no

Are you tired of receiving a NO reply from your Chinese friends/colleagues for the kind things you in fact sincerely offer? What is wrong with them sometimes you might think in your head. Are they specifically anti-social in general or is there something wrong with me that they dislike? Why is it just so hard to say “Yes, that is so kind of you. Let’s go.”

Historical background:

Alright, it is also not our fault that we tend to say NO to the things people offer to us. We are always trying to change this habit that is rooted inside us for years but it is often the first thing we would naturally say. E.g. “na na na, it’s fine, it’s fine, i’m good, i’m not hungry, etc.” When we were still a kid, we would always look up at our mother and see their expression indicates when we were being offered with goodies or food when we visited the friends of our parents’. Not surprising, our mother would always warn us upfront first by saying “if later auntie x offers you this and that, don’t take it. It is impolite to take things from others.” Our mother would say to the guest politely in return “ah, my kids are always full” / “ah, I don’t allow my kids to eat candies.” / “ah, my kids already had a bunch of snacks before we arrived.” / “It’s already so kind of you to invite us whole family to your place.” These are the “severe” situations of how a mother raises her children when they were young. I, on the other hand, would depict the “moderate” scenario in my own family situation. My family as an example, I would always remember in my head that my sisters and I would first look up at our mother first and she would then say “hao la hao la (meaning: ok la ok la in English). Such an additional process (to look up at our mother) was to me redundant but if we were to accept the offer straight away, it would be known as being impolite. Therefore, after many years of childhood training, we have grown up to become people who tend to say “NO, thank you” in the first place.

Cultural Confrontations:

When you are being answered with a NO by your Chinese girlfriend/boyfriend/friends/colleagues, don’t get it as an offense. Instead, the little trick that I find it working quite well is to tell them “aw, but then I have to throw this away” / “aw, but I really can’t finish it.” / “aw, I really don’t need it.” The trick to this is and also further brings us to the Chinese cultural aspect is that we don’t like to waste. So if we know that things are otherwise to be thrown away, then “sure why not! give it to me! I would like to have a piece (honestly)!” Test it out, you might be amazed.


2 thoughts on “Why do you keep saying NO to the things I offer?

  1. Pingback: Why does it take so long to get your points clear? | The Cultural Frontier

  2. Pingback: German Ph.D to be and his fellow Chinese colleagues | The Cultural Frontier

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